Odds are, you think you know yourself pretty well.
So if I asked you a bunch of questions,
like if you’re generous,
or how good a driver you are
compared to other people,
you would probably
have some confident answers for me.
Except… I have some bad news.
According to research,
your answers to many of these questions
likely are not all that accurate.
Scientists have compared
how people assess their abilities
to how they objectively perform,
and the two often do not line up.
But if nothing else, there does seem to be a reason for this,
and a way people can get better.
Much of the research in this field
centers around something
called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
It’s usually described as a type of cognitive bias
where unskilled people believe they are more competent,
more capable, and smarter than they really are.
So in part, unskilled people
are more likely to over-estimate their skill level,
underestimate the skill level of those around them,
and be unable to recognize expertise.
But it’s not just those with the least skill
who misjudge themselves.
The highest performers also inaccurately
rate their skillset, just in different ways.
While they are generally good at self-assessment,
like, they can pretty accurately tell you
how many questions they got right on a quiz,
they tend to think that they’re less skilled
relative to others.
Though there is some nuance to this.
In a 2014 meta-synthesis, for example,
researchers found that people’s self-evaluations
were more likely to match others’ evaluations
in more specific, objective, or familiar domains.
For example, like, “the ability to shoot free throws”.
Those evaluations tended to diverge
when it came to more vague areas,
like “general athleticism”.
Still, overall, those results
leave a lot of room for improvement.
One reason understanding yourself can be so difficult
depends on your actual level of skill.
As I mentioned earlier, part of the Dunning-Kruger effect
describes the way highly skilled people
underestimate their abilities
and unskilled people overestimate them.
But those misjudgments don’t happen for the same reason.
Dunning and Kruger’s research shows that
highly-skilled people have a hard time
comparing themselves to others
because they assume that since they know the information,
everyone else must know it, too.
Unskilled people, on the other hand,
often don’t have the tools to judge their own skills,
so they think their ability is higher than it is
because they don’t know what the real skill entails.
Like, I know nothing about flying an airplane,
so I might look at a cockpit
and think it’s just like driving a car.
And since I know how to drive,
I totally know how to fly a plane.
Which I do not!
I don’t know how to fly a plane!
At least I know that.
Now, it might seem like the solution to this
is just good old-fashioned feedback.
But weirdly, that isn’t always true.
High performers are more likely to adjust their expectations
of other people’s skill based on feedback.
But under-performers can be told
how bad they are at something
and still be overly optimistic
about how well they’re gonna do the next time,
as well as how they compared to others.
So, researchers have found a few ways to fix this tendency.
For people who aren’t very good at something,
one way to improve self-assessment
is to get better at metacognitive skills,
that is, thinking about thinking.
In Dunning and Kruger’s 1999 paper
that launched the name for this effect,
they tested the logic skills of 140 participants
and asked them to rate how well they thought they did.
Then, the researchers gave half of them
a logic training session.
Finally, they asked all of the participants
to rate how well they’d done
on the original test, one more time.
Before the training, those who scored
in the lowest percentiles
overestimated their abilities
more than anyone else in their experiment, as usual.
But after the training,
they were as good at judging their own abilities
as the highest performers were.
Essentially, the researchers suggested that
they’d gotten better at thinking
about their own thought processes.
And that helped them more accurately
evaluate their own performance.
More broadly, other research has suggested
that the way you think about intelligence
may affect the accuracy of your self-assessments,
at least for some things.
In a 2007 study, Joyce Ehrlinger,
one of Dunning and Kruger’s colleagues,
邓宁和克鲁格的同事之一 Joyce Ehrlinger
gave participants various word problems
and also asked them about their views on intelligence.
Erhlinger found that those who considered intelligence
a fixed skill, rather than one that could be improved,
were generally overconfident
in self-assessments of their performance.
Research suggests that this happened
because that group was more motivated to succeed,
so they tended to better remember
the parts of the test that went well. And that makes sense.
If you think your intelligence is an inherent, fixed thing,
it could be hard to wrestle with
the implications of a low score.
Meanwhile, if you think you can learn
to be more intelligent,
you might not be afraid to focus
on the easy and difficult parts of the test,
so your self-assessment might not be as biased.
So in that sense,
not being afraid to fail and make mistakes
could help you have a more accurate view of your skills.
Alternatively, there are some exercises you could try,
including one we are exploring with Vanessa from BrainCraft,
which is a channel on YouTube
if you don’t know, it’s amazing.
如果你不知道 可以看看 非常精彩
Please follow me over to her channel
so you can see how to increase your self-awareness
and then you can subscribe if you like it.
Thanks Hank! So this tool that Hank mentioned is called
the Johari window and it’s a really helpful way
to figure out what you believe about yourself
versus how others see you
So over on my channel BrainCraft,
I’m gonna to try this out with Hank,
so please follow us over, and I’ll see you there!